Insights about the newly ordained

A survey of 444 newly ordained priests in the United States shows they were closely connected to the church when they were growing up.

The survey run by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University shows most of the new priests went to Catholic schools.

Family example is another important factor in their vocation: a third have a relative who is already a priest or religious.

While about half say they were actively dissuaded from entering the seminary, most – 82 per cent – say they had encouragement to enter the priesthood by someone they knew – mainly priests, family members or friends.

One of the survey’s authors, Dr. Mary L. Gautier, says these characteristics offered the new priests opportunities to be aware of and around priests as they were growing up.

“Encouragement from family, friends, the parish priest, the teachers in the school, all of that makes a difference” and was a “very important” factor in their decision, Gautier said.

The survey also shows a small reduction in the average age of ordination since 1999: where the average age used to be 36, the class of 2017’s average age is 34.

The average age the newly ordained priests started seriously considering entering the priesthood was when they were 16.

Encouraging wider diversity in the seminary is a challenge, Gautier says.

Seventy percent of those who responded to the survey were Caucasian,  and just 25% were born outside the United States.

Reflecting the country’s ethnic and cultural makeup is a challenge; for example, around 34% of all US Catholics are Hispanic.

“I think vocation directors are aware of the challenge and are actively working to increase vocations in the Hispanic community, but it’s not reflected in the numbers of ordinands, at least this year,” Gautier said.


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News category: World.

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